News / Health

Tuberculosis 'Time Bomb' Costs Europe Billions Annually

Belarusians queue for X-rays to detect tuberculosis during Belarusian Red Cross screening, Minsk, Jan. 29, 2013.
Belarusians queue for X-rays to detect tuberculosis during Belarusian Red Cross screening, Minsk, Jan. 29, 2013.
Reuters
Europe is facing a multi-billion-euro time bomb of rising costs to control tuberculosis (TB) as drug-resistant forms of the lung disease spread, a pioneering study found.
 
Often thought of as a disease of the past or one restricted to marginalized communities, TB is already inflicting annual direct costs of more than 500 million euros on the region and another 5.3 billion euros in productivity losses.
 
The study, by health economists based in Germany, also suggests the economic burden of TB far outweighs the likely costs of investing in much-needed research to develop more effective medicines and vaccines — something they said governments and the drug industry should do urgently.
 
"We know that new drugs and vaccines are very expensive [to develop], but if you take these costs into consideration, then everything is justified," said Roland Diel, a health economics professor at Germany's University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, who led the study.
 
The emergence of strains of that can't be treated with even the most powerful of drugs has turned TB into one of the world's most pressing health problems.
 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB infected 8.7 million people worldwide in 2011 and killed 1.4 million. As many as two million people may have drug-resistant strains by 2015, the Geneva-based health agency says.
 
Treating even typical TB is a long process. Patients need to take a cocktail of antibiotics for six months and many fail to complete the treatment. That, alongside overuse and misuse of antibiotics, has fuelled the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug resistant (XDR-TB).
 
For this study, published online in the European Respiratory Journal on Friday and the first of its kind, researchers used a systematic review of literature and institutional websites for the 27 EU member states to summarize data on TB treatment costs in 2011.
 
They split the countries into two groups based on gross domestic product (GDP) per person.
 
For the old EU 15 countries plus Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia, the average direct cost per case of typical TB was 10,282 euros ($13,600), but was more than 57,200 euros for MDR cases and more than 170,700 euros for XDR cases. For the remaining EU states, average costs were 3,427 euros for standard treatable TB and around 24,100 euros for drug-resistant cases.
 
The total treatment cost of all TB cases in 2011 was 536,890,315 euros ($712.26 million).
 
While the number of drug-resistant TB cases in Europe is currently only a tiny fraction of the total of around 70,000 cases per year, Diel said that would swiftly change.
 
"It's a time bomb in terms of drug-resistant cases," he said in a telephone interview. "They are just a small fraction right now, but that will increase... so the costs will also rise."
 
Beyond the direct costs, Diel's team also calculated TB's impact in terms of the monetary value of lost productivity.
 
Using disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs — a measure of disease burden that looks at the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death — they found the total years lost was 103,104 in 2011. In monetary terms, this amounted to more than 5.3 billion euros.
 
Diel said this was the figure that shocked him the most.
 
"People assume that in most parts of Europe, TB doesn't play much of a role in comparison to other diseases. But, in fact, the costs of it are very high," he said. "It's billions, and nobody realized that before."
 
Responding to the findings, Francesco Blasi, President of the European Respiratory Society, said they showed the huge burden of TB on both the economy and on society in Europe.
 
"It is critical that healthcare professionals and policymakers take note," he said in a statement.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid